This GOOD news from  

New York City) Christine Quinn has earned a double distinction, becoming the first woman and the first out lesbian to serve as the speaker of New York City Council.

The Manhattan Democrat becomes the second most powerful person in city politics, after Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Some of my friends and colleagues complain that the only LGBT news they encounter is negative -- violence against queers, hate and slander, legal maneuvers, etc.   Tis true that can be disheartening, but a story like this is worth dredging through all that muck.

Sure, its not Pittsburgh.  And, yes, how much power does she really have anyway.  And, true, NYC is fairly gay friendly already. 

But each small normalizing move is another chip in the myth of the cultural wars.  Gay people are part of the national landscape and the more prominent their LGBT identify in the context of their everyday lives, the less frightening it becomes.  And the less alien it becomes.  I'm a firm believer that people must get to know gay people in their everyday lives in order to undercut the "fear factor" utilized so efficiently by the right wingers. 

This is especially critical for Pittsburgh where people tend to be private and parochial in the first place.  The most talked about LGBT people are several "Are They or Aren't They" local celebrities (they probably aren't and who cares anyway).  Especially as some of the more prominent LGBT leaders retire and spend more time out of state.  Who fills those shoes?

Thank goodness for the vibrant young queer community.  We have some amazing young LGBT people in Pittsburgh (Emma Blackman-Mathis of the Girl Grantmakers and GLSEN comes to mind).  Our challenge, like the rest of the region, is not to lose these amazing youth to brighter horizons.  

If we had a Christine Quinn here in Pittsburgh, would young queers like Emma stay?